How to Fill Your Digital Marketing Content Calendar in 8 Steps

January 19, 2023 | 5 minute read
Nick Cantu
Creative Director for Creative Services, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
Kelly Moran
Senior Art Director for Copy, Oracle Digital Experience Agency
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A blank content calendar can be daunting. Here’s the 8-step approach that Oracle Digital Experience Agency’s Creative Services team uses to build out content plans with our clients. 

Let’s start with major events that typically involve campaigns that last weeks or even months. These are our tentpole campaigns around which we build our content calendar.

1. Long-Duration National & Global Events

Start with all of the major campaigns that are tied to national or global holidays or seasonal selling seasons.

For example, if you’re a retailer, slot in campaigns for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, back to school, the holiday season, and any other major events that have historically been important to your business. If you’re a travel company, slot in campaigns related to seasonal travel, whether that’s the Alaskan cruise season or summer camping season.

2. Long-Duration Brand Events

Then look at major campaigns that are unique to your brand or industry. These can include annual events, such as the annual user conference of a B2B software company, as well as periodic events, such as the anniversary of your company’s founding or of a key product’s initial release. For example, this year Disney will be celebrating 100 years since its founding and has a year-long promotional campaign planned.

For all long-duration events, it’s helpful to map out how and when these messages should evolve from secondary or teaser content into the hero of a campaign—and potentially how they’re deemphasized back down to a secondary message.

Next, let’s look at minor events that generally involve campaigns that last anywhere from a single day up to a week or so.

3. Short-Duration National & Global Events

At the top end, these could include critical retail shopping events like Cyber Monday. And at the low end of the spectrum, it could include one-day events, like National Mac & Cheese Day (July 14) or National Star Wars Day (May the 4th). There are tons of possibilities that could work for your brand.

For a list of nearly 1,000 national and global holidays and messaging themes, check out our Content Calendar Assistant.

4. Short-Duration Brand Events

These could include a variety of events that are particular to your business, such as: 

  • Annual clearance sales
  • The release of new products
  • The release of new product features or new models of existing products
  • Product category features
  • Content marketing efforts
  • Customer spotlights or user-generated content
  • Influencer collaborations
  • And much more

5. Regional & Other Targeted Events

These events are different from the others we’ve discussed in that they’re not for everyone. They target only a slice of your audience, whether that’s based on geography, demographics, firmographics, or other criteria.

For example, a B2B company might run campaigns that are only for customers and users, but not prospects—and vice versa. A hospitality brand could run segmented or personalized campaigns that target their audience based on travel affinities, whether based on geography or past behavior. A retailer could run back-to-school campaigns that target parents. 

Check out our checklist of more than 170 Segmentation & Personalization Criteria to create more targeted campaigns.

After tentatively slotting all of those events that we’ve discussed so far, you’ll want to check them against other events that are happening—both those that could be in conflict and those that present opportunities.

6. Conflicting Events

To avoid having your campaign undermined by other events, look at national and global holidays and events, as well as at the events of competitors and peers. See if any of them are in conflict with your plans, or could potentially cast your event in a poor light. 

For example, if your company’s audience is health professionals, then trying to hold a webinar during the American Medical Association’s annual conference would probably be unwise, as the AMA would sap your attendance. And your company might be thought insensitive if it announced partnerships with Black-owned businesses on Sept. 15, the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Also consider what events might cause you to pause your campaigns.

7. Opportunity Events

While you’d want to avoid competing against some events, there likely are some that you’d want to piggyback on or counter-program against. For example, a number of major retailers hold major sales on the same days as Amazon’s Prime Day events.

Of course, many opportunities don’t announce themselves well in advance. So, the last step in filling your content calendar is counterintuitive because it’s focused on not filling your content calendar too much.

Learn about other campaign aspects you should also include in your content planning, such as A/B testing and automation updates.

8. Ad Hoc & Contingency Events

If you stuff your content calendar with events, it becomes rigid, hurting your ability to use your campaigns to respond to what’s happening in the news, what products are selling really well for you, what the weather is doing, or other criteria or events.

For example, for some of our clients, we build campaigns to be sent in response to big winter storms. We have those standing by and send them by geography when the weather presents the opportunity.

In general, for our clients, we like to leave about 20% of planned campaigns open and to be determined much closer to the time of launch. This approach keeps us nimble and able to send more relevant campaigns based on what’s happening at that time. 

Of course, with all of your digital marketing campaigns, you’ll want to plan out how your campaign messages can best be conveyed via each of your channels, and how those channel-specific campaigns will coordinate and build off each other. Also keep in mind that the broadcast and segmented campaigns on your content calendar should be supported by an array of triggered campaigns—with some of those automations benefiting from seasonal updates to optimize performance.

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 Need help with content planning? Oracle Digital Experience Agency has hundreds of marketing and communication experts ready to help Oracle customers create stronger connections with their customers and employees, even if they’re not using an Oracle platform as the foundation of that experience. Our award-winning specialists can handle everything from creative and strategy to content planning and project management.

For help overcoming your challenges or seizing your opportunities, talk to your Oracle account manager, visit us online, or email us at OracleAgency_US@Oracle.com. 

Nick Cantu

Creative Director for Creative Services, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Nick Cantu is the Creative Director for Creative Services at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. He has over 14 years of creative consulting experience, with the past 9 years dedicated to data-driven email marketing. His approach focuses on the end-user, building relevant and engaging messages that drive results.

Kelly Moran

Senior Art Director for Copy, Oracle Digital Experience Agency

Kelly Moran is Senior Art Director for Copy at Oracle Digital Experience Agency. She is a writer by day and by night with a background in linguistics. Her understanding of copywriting across channels has been shaped by her experience in customer success, content management, and supporting boutique brands in retail and e-commerce. 


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